Great big burgers
Bangkok’s bountiful Thai food keeps us happy 99% of the time, but every so often, a craving for a good old-fashioned burger hits us. Like most international foods, Bangkok has no shortage of burgers that run from Big Macs up to gourmet patties with imported beef. Seeking something in-between, we gave Firehouse Pub & Restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 11 a try.
Located towards the back end of this well-known strip of restaurants, pubs and nightclubs, Firehouse was launched in 2012 by an American expat who hails from Hawaii. The clean and cosy air-conditioned space is outfitted with a full bar in the back and a line of tables on either side. Brick walls and dark woods are punctuated by vintage firefighting memorabilia. The place was quiet when we arrived for lunch, but it gets lively during daily happy hours from 16:30 to 20:30 when it’s buy one-get-one-free on beer and cocktails.
Classic grown-up beverages like white Russians and margaritas are served along with new-school favourites like Jager-bombs, Maker’s Mark Bourbon and four types of top-end Patron tequila that goes for upwards of 800 baht per shot — you know, for when you need to live it up. A decent selection of wine and beer are available, including the usual Thai suds as well as imports like Hoegaarden and Stella Artois.
The food menu offers mainly USA bar food faves like buffalo wings, chilli-cheese fries, Baja fish tacos, grilled steak and cheese sandwiches, gourmet hot dogs and giant salads, with most prices falling between 150 and 350 baht. One exception to the American rule is an outstanding fish and chips, or so we’ve heard. A mini-barrel of shell-on peanuts and jar of dill pickles are offered as complimentary munchables.
A separate Fireman’s Menu features dishes apparently inspired by actual American firehouses. I was bemused to see that the fire department from my old hometown of Burlington, Vermont had inspired the baby back ribs, but as a New Englander, it didn’t seem right that a Virginia F.D. inspired the New England clam chowder (southerners probably say the same thing about the ribs). While not up to Boston standards, the chowder was pretty good for Bangkok.
Made from 180 grams of French-Thai beef that, according to the menu, comes from cows fed organic grain diets free of growth hormones, antibiotics and chemicals, Firehouse’s burgers are the stars of the show. Each come with a choice of extras that include five types of cheese, bacon, avocado, caramalised onion and sauteed mushrooms, and house specialties include mini-sliders, a teriyaki burger, an Italian-inspired “Caprese burger” and a “Champion Chili Burger”. House-made veggie burgers, Asian-style pork burgers and chicken sandwiches are also available.
I kept it simple by adding New Zealand cheddar cheese to the house “Premium Burger”, which came with lettuce, tomato, onion and ketchup on the side. Served on a wooden slab with a mini-barrel of French fries, the tall rather than wide burger was massive and a bit messy. Once I could wrap my mouth around it, I found the beef wedged between a fresh kaiser bun to be cooked to perfection, and overall the burger was very satisfying. It was also seriously enormous — if you don’t have a firefighter’s appetite, go for the 110-gram “Miniburger”.
Overall, the Firehouse should fit the bill for anyone seeking a great burger or a full-on American bar-style spread with plus-size portions to match. Service was attentive and friendly, the atmosphere reminded me of home and the menu even mentioned my hometown fire department.
Address: 3/26 Soi Sukhumvit 11, Bangkok
T: (02) 651 3643
Coordinates (for GPS): 100º33'23.43" E, 13º44'41.91" N
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David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
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